Manson’s Bray Rookes is focused on growing both on and off the ice.
The son of Michael and Leanne Rookes is starting his agribusiness studies through the University of Manitoba. He is a proud sixth-generation farmer. As a Virden Oil Capitals defenceman, he has grown his game and was having an impact in his second season before the COVID-19 pandemic paused the Manitoba Junior Hockey League campaign until the new year.
“Bray has improved in all facets of his game since joining our program,” Oil Caps head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “Bray works extremely hard and so his skills have improved to where he is a consistent performer for us every night.”
When asked about developing his game, the 18-year-old Rookes said, “Since becoming a part of the Oil Caps, I have been able to work on my puck moving game, with (assistant coach and former Western Hockey League defenceman) Reid Gow’s help and skating everyday I’ve gotten a lot more confident as a defenceman.”
At 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, Rookes brings a big, strong presence to the Virden blue line. He was third on the team in penalty minutes with 92 as a rookie while also collecting three goals and eight assists in 59 games. This season Rookes has an assist and 10 penalty minutes through eight games.
“He competes very hard and he is a great defender and penalty killer. Bray has the ability to be a physical force and a very good puck mover. He is a leader by example and an unbelievable teammate,” said Ramsey, who also stated, “We are very fortunate to have Bray on our team. We look forward to watching him develop as his junior career continues.”
Rookes enjoys the Oil Caps fans and the community support the squad receives.
“They always make home games exciting and fun,” he said. “We have a special community behind us that not many other teams have.”
Rookes is also pleased to have his family supporting his hockey career.
“My family is a huge hockey family with two uncles playing SJHL (Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Troy and Chad Leslie, who both were part of the Oil Caps organization in the past) and two brothers (Cody and Kurt) that loved hockey. We skated at Manson rink every winter for hours.”
While hockey is important to the Rookes and his family, so is agriculture.
“I am a sixth-generation farmer here in Manson and enjoy the lifestyle of raising beef calves and grain farming,” he said. “You get to go to the farm everyday and decide what to do and how you want to do it. You can’t put a price on that! Throughout my life on the farm I want to strive towards regenerative agriculture, practicing growing food with minimal inputs in sync with Mother Nature.”